Giles Fraser, in a column in the British paper, the Guardian, suggests there is a tension between atheism and humanism.
Indeed, the fascinating question posed by Theos is whether an entirely atheistic form of humanism has the resources to sustain itself. If the foundational story of human origins is not that we are chosen by God but that we are descended from apes, what is it that makes human beings morally distinctive? Yes, of course I think Darwin was correct scientifically – but, as a story of human origins, evolution hardly encourages us to think of human beings as being unique as a species. Indeed, Darwin’s point is precisely the opposite. So how does humanism generate a sense of the human as being uniquely valuable? Some may say because we are rational. But are rational people more morally valuable than irrational ones? Surely not. No, it seems that making the human stand out as morally particular requires some sort of leap of faith.
Fraser, instead, argues that Christianity offers a better opportunity to those who might call themselves ‘humanist’
Two thousand years later, when all the misleading tinsel has been pushed aside, it remains a shockingly subversive message. God is not to be discovered beyond Orion’s belt but down on Earth. Early cosmologists looked into the sky for clues to the whereabouts of God, but, incomprehensibly to them, the stars led towards a random shed on the back streets of a small town in the Middle East. From then on, think of God, think of a crying infant. Not a superhuman force, not even a human being enhanced by superhero-like powers, but a gurgling, pink and fleshy homo sapiens. It is the ultimate humanist narrative.
The report which Fraser is responding to is here
What do you think? Is Fraser’s understanding of atheistic humanism correct? Does he offer here an avenue of evangelism for people who might not otherwise be willing to listen to the story of Christ?
Posted by Jon White